Long Beach State holds off UC Davis for clutch road win

Aboubacar Traore had 20 points to go with 11 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season. File photo by Ted Apodaca

Long Beach State raced out to a first half lead and held on with some big shots down the stretch for a gritty 78-74 men’s basketball win over UC Davis on the road Thursday night.

Seven of the last eight games from Davis have been decided by five points or less, and Thursday night was another great contest between the teams.

Long Beach State (16-9, 8-5 Big West) had big nights from a number of players to help seal the win. Aboubacar Traore had 20 points to go with 11 rebounds in his sixth double-double of the season, Messiah Thompson had a massive night with 18 points and Marcus Tsohonis finished with 17 points. Lassina Traore had probably the most complete night of his career as well despite not having a huge scoring night, leading the team with 16 rebounds and 6 assists while scoring six points.

The Beach roared to a massive start to take a big lead in the first half against UC Davis (15-10, 10-4 Big West). Long Beach State shot 51.4% from the floor, and took a 10-2 lead after a pair of early Thompson 3-pointers. Elijah Pepper kept the Aggies within reach with 16 first-half points, the Beach scored 46 in the first half and led by as many as 19 on the way to a 46-30 lead at the half.

In the second half, UC Davis continued to chip away at the lead. Down 68-63, the Aggies turned to Pepper who hit three straight 3-pointers to give UC Davis a 72-68 lead and fully fire up the Davis crowd.

A massive answer came from Aboubacar Traore, who stopped the run for the Beach, and then Thompson made his fourth three of the night to put Long Beach State back in front 73-72 with 3:52 to play. The Aggies took one final lead with a Milling jumper with 2:27 remaining at 74-73, but Long Beach State would lock down, not allowing a point over the final two minutes while feeding the ball inside to Aboubacar Traore who closed out the win with five free throws over that stretch.

Long Beach State will remain on the road Saturday in another top-half matchup against CSUN. Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. from the Matadome, with live coverage provided by ESPN+.